Some people might ask me, “Why do you care so much about what happens with Stickle Road?” I care because our children deserve a highway project that is done properly the first time, something that they won’t have to fix in the future. And I care because $9.5 million of taxpayers’ money is too much when a far better solution will cost far less.
The following is a brief listing of the problems with 20th Street extension proposal.
1. The Stickle Road intersection currently has the dubious distinction of being the third most dangerous intersection in Vernon.
There will still be one left-turn permitted across two lanes of highway traffic, south bound turning east. Therefore, it is a given, there will still be casualties and fatalities. For some reason, the ministry is anticipating a 20 per cent reduction in crashes. That is not good enough. Zero fatalities should be the goal.
2. We are all paying for this one. But who should be paying for the 20th St extension? The developer who owns the land is traditionally responsible for the cost of roadbuilding, sidewalks, curb and gutter, etc. Is this going to set a new precedent in B.C. with all developers expecting B.C. taxpayers to foot the bill for these roads? When I asked an employee with the Ministry of Transportation this question, she responded, “Well, he gave us the land.” What developer wouldn’t give the land to have the road built and paid for by B.C. taxpayers? This is just wrong, even if he does pay it back. It’s a poor plan and far too expensive.
3. Residents on the west side of Stickle Road and summer campers, in order to go north, are expected to turn around in the Walmart parking lot. It is arrowed in during the McElhanney safety report.
If a Stickle Road resident then decides it might be simpler to go south for the day, in order to get back home, they will have to go far north of Stickle, make a dangerous left-turn across two lanes of highway traffic at Swan Lake Nurseryland and then finally get home.
4. In order for all of the semis and large trucks to get back to Highway 97 after they have serviced businesses along Stickle and Pleasant Valley roads, they will be diverted down 20th St via the one-way extension to 48th Avenue where they will turn right and go through the busy 27th Street intersection, past the Village Green Centre, and finally connect back to Highway 97 at Vernon Toyota. Talk about a waste of time and fuel, not to mention excess emissions and increased traffic on already busy roads.
5. Once you destroy a wetland, you never get it back. This is the BX Creek outflow into the south end of Swan Lake. A major travesty in 2016. Shame on these politicians.
6. There are at least 13 other intersections which will suffer increases in traffic crashes because of this ridiculous plan. The RCMP are concerned, and the two officers that I spoke to both offered the same solution: “They should put in a traffic circle.”
7. A large, four-lane highway traffic circle needs 200-by-175 feet. There is 260 feet available between the railway and the frontage road, more than enough room to build a beautiful traffic circle that would keep Stickle Road traffic where it belongs, not spread out all around the city and country.
A traffic circle solves the safety issue — fatalities drop to zero.
They are being built on more and more highways in Canada all of the time. The cost drops to about $3.3 million for a large, four-lane roundabout. Large trucks stay where they belong, on the highway, saving time and fuel and reducing emissions. The BX Creek wetland gets to see another day.
Barbara Rawlek Stone, BSc. MD